Nursing Homes Should Encourage Their Residents to Stay Active

It is well-known that living an active lifestyle is beneficial to one’s overall health and well being. Unfortunately, inactivity among nursing home residents is prevalent and has shown to be especially deleterious for frail individuals. A risk factor for sedentary behavior in nursing home residents is a decline in physical fitness, which includes muscle strength, balance, and physical performance. Deterioration of physical fitness negatively effects the care dependency of older adults, which influences the workload of nursing staff. Research has shown that even in healthy older adults, 10 days of bed rest leads to an extreme decline on muscle function and aerobic capacity, and results in an overall reduction of physical activity. Long-term care facilities should implement exercise interventions that have shown to be successful in producing positive results. Physical activity does not need to be vigorous in order to produce beneficial results. Participation in daily activities already helps to maintain physical functioning and influences higher quality of life.

Research shows that the more time older adults spend doing daily and household activities, the lesser decline they experience in mobility. Participation in daily activities not only enhances physical functioning, but also improves quality of life. It is important that nursing homes give their residents opportunities to be physically active during the day. Nursing home staff can play an important role in encouraging residents to participate in physical activity by tailoring daily activities to the functional abilities, interests, and prospects of each person, and implementing these tailored activities to daily tasks while taking into account any cognitive impairments.